Review Summary: Essential metal for the true heavy metal fan. Not for: posers and punk bitches.
Nihilist. Often proclaimed to be one of Sweden’s most celebrated death metal bands and yet they never got around to putting out a full length in their rather minuscule span in the late eighties. Why are Nihilist rated so highly in the halls of Swedish death metal history you ask? For many reasons really starting with influence. Nihilist pioneered the infamous Stockholm buzz saw riffing technique that remains to be seen as a staple amongst Stockholm death metal powerhouse Dismember amongst others to this day in 2009. Also Nihilist would end up fragmenting into two separate entities which would go on and maintain credibility for two decades and counting. Johnny Hedlund and his love for Norse mythology would go on and form Unleashed where as Lars Goran Petrov, Nicke Anderson, and Alex Hellid would form the war machine known as Entombed. But enough about these two, let’s get down to the star of the show.
Nihilist despite never putting out a record gained notoriety through the Swedish scene with a few primal demos and a supposedly vicious live performance. Since I wasn’t a teenager in 1987-1989, I was 2 in the latter date,I cant really verify. Nevertheless, a demo collection was put together in 2005 containing all their works from 1987 to 1989 and I immediately connected with the sheer brutality and youthful misanthropy hidden between these lost recordings. Give or take I’d say all the band members had to be in their mid to late teens maybe even early twenties when these demos were recorded. Why? Sloppy musicianship for starters. Throughout this splendid fourteen track offering raw anger and simplicity prevails. This band raise ***ing hell non stop all day every day. The drums pound furiously in a menacing rage perfectly accentuating the barbaric vocal delivery of (soon to be Entombed front man) Lars Goran Petrov and the raging conglomeration of harmonized leads with bone crushing riffs. The emotion portrayed here is as authentic as you can get when it comes to metal. Pure ***ing aggression.
Old punk rock and hardcore (Mostly Discharge) were said to be early influences for the Swedish death metal scene and it shows with the simplistic chord progressions, a lack of technicality, and primal hooks designed to incite riots, excruciatingly violent moshpits, and broken necks from severe head banging. But Leif Cuzner and Alex Hellid were far more capable than just providing a flurry of breakneck riffing and thudding grooves. The soling skills displayed here are tight and sound astonishing when accompanied by the Swedish buzz sawing. Overall the catchiness and the powerful head banging rhythm’s just from the guitars solidify this demo tape as essential metal viewing. The bass playing on the other hand is slightly less than audible and not quite as impressive. Who cares though, when you’re heated beyond belief and craving just pure savagery nothing more nothing less. The drumming patterns are frantic and beat driven. Quick tempo through and though, he utilizes the whole catalog from crashing cymbal hits to militant drum rolls and fierce blast beats to perfection. The vocal aspect is also a strength to Nihilist. Lar’s delivery is quite unique for the time being and still reigning as savagely now as he does in Entombed 20 years later. His harsh vocals come off as a mix between a scream/shout and unintelligible barking perfect for commanding an audience whether it contains 1 or 374 listeners.
It goes without saying that “The Demo Tapes 87-89” from Nihilist is pretty much a Swedish death metal essential especially if you love early Dismember and Entombed. True metal for the true metal fan. Not recommended to those who enjoy their death metal with a high content for melody aka Insomnium and early In Flames, synthesizers, or dynamic progressive sounds capes. Don’t be a negative nancy and puss out. Cop a feel.